Google Removes Indian Apps That Refuse to Pay 11-26% Fee

Google Removes Indian Apps That Refuse to Pay 11-26% Fee
Photo: Shutterstock 04.03.2024 503

Among those removed from the Google Play Store are popular apps like marriage app Bharat Matrimony and job search app Naukri.

Google began removing the apps of 10 companies in India on Friday, in a dispute over service fee payments in one of the company's fastest-growing markets.

Indian startups have for years been protesting against many of the U.S. giant's practices, including its in-app fee charges. Google says its fees help develop and promote the Android and Play Store app ecosystem.

On Friday, India's Matrimony.com matchmaking apps Bharat Matrimony, Christian Matrimony, Muslim Matrimony and Jodii were removed from Google's Play Store. Matrimony.com's Bharat Matrimony app had been downloaded more than 50 million times, company founder Murugavel Janakiraman said. The company said it has more than 40 million customers.

Google sent notices on Friday of Play Store violations to Matrimony.com and Info Edge, whose job and real estate search apps have also been removed.

Info Edge said on Saturday that its apps are back on Play Store thanks to the team's "great crisis management." At the same time, users cannot perform the in-app billing to avail services.

The dispute between the Alphabet Inc-owned tech giant with Indian firms originated after Google imposed a fee of 11-26 per cent on in-app payments after anti-competition body CCI ordered scrapping of an earlier system of charging 15-30 per cent. Representatives of Indian startups believe that Google's new payment system is not a solution to the problem, but an attempt to circumvent the CCI order. In their opinion, the fee remains too high, and Google is trying to take advantage of its monopoly on the Android platform.

After the Supreme Court didn't provide interim relief to companies behind these applications in their battle against Google's platform fees, the tech giant went ahead to delist the apps for not paying the fee.

Google said that these companies had avoided paying the commission despite benefiting from the platform. As the US tech giant emphasized, only 3% of developers in India sell digital goods or services and therefore need to pay a service fee, “the vast majority of whom pay 15 percent or less – the lowest of any major global app store."

“In fact, in India, less than 60 developers on Google Play are subject to fees above 15 percent,”

said Google.

Google's decision to remove some apps in India from its app store "cannot be permitted", Information Technology Minister Ashwini Vaishnaw said on Saturday. Vaishnaw said he has held talks with Google and will meet the startups, which needed protection in India.

Sources: Mint, Reuters

digital markets  India 

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